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Research Library

CWW, 2018, Country Report - South Africa

CWW suggests policy interventions to support the household production of women and to ensure that it does not unduly limit non-household production. Examples of this include subsidised childcare and universal paid family leave, for mothers and fathers so they can share the burden of household production. 


FRIDA, 2017, Resource Mobilisation Toolkit for Youth

This toolkit provides creative and practical thinking around resource mobilisation for girls, young women and trans youth. It aims to benefit start-up groups engaged in social justice movements and acts as a collaboration with various activists.


Gottlieb, 2015, Movements Vs Organisations

Gottlieba argues that successful change is always brought about by movements rather than individual organisations. In this piece she outlines some of the key definitional differences between these two terms.


Greenpeace, 2016, Mobilisation Cookbook

This “cookbook” serves as a resource for various campaigns and projects around how to mobilise communities.


Mogus and Liacus, 2016, Networked Change

This report outlines the strategies and practices common to successful and impactful advocacy campaigns. It considers several organisational structures including institutional heavyweights, grassroot upstarts and directed network campaigns, the latter of which appear very successful.


SALSA, 2017, Advocacy Action Kit

Published shortly after Trump’s election in 2016, this kit instructs civic organisations on how to continue engaging with individuals inspired to make changes in society.


Tsima, 2015, Community Mobilisation Toolkit

This toolkit is a compilation of mobilisation activities relating to social justice, gender equality, engaged citizen activism and HIV prevention. It acts as a guide to support activists but also as a means of encouraging participation and action.


Bohren et al, 2017, Support for Women during Childbirth

This paper examines the effects of continuous support during childbirth indicating that this support may improve health outcomes for both the women giving birth and their infants.


Grant and Gonzalez, 2019, Rising C-Section Rates in South Africa

Grant and Gonzalez explore the various reasons for the rising rate of c-section delivery in South Africa and globally, taking into cognisance the impact of mothers’ income status in being able to choose how their babies are delivered.


Verrall, 2012, Narratives of Birth Experiences

This study explores childbirth narratives of first-time mothers in South Africa, indicating that these women’s’ identities were profoundly shaped by the experience of birth.


WHO, 2019, Birth Companion

This opinion piece explores the benefits of having a companion during childbirth and labour.


WHO, 2018, Recommendations on Intrapartum Care

The World Health Organisation has published a series of recommendations in intrapartum care. These recommendations serve as a guideline on essential labour and childbirth practices to ensure a safe and positive experience. Data informing this guideline can be found in the file WHO, 2018, Recommendations on Intrapartum Care Data


Du Plessis et al, 2016, Review of Breastfeeding Progress in South Africa

Du Plessis et al review progress in the promotion of breastfeeding globally before moving on to examine the effect of policy changes and interventions in South Africa aimed to increase the number of women breastfeeding exclusively up to 6 months. Thereafter, recommendations about how to normalise breastfeeding are given.


Lake et al, 2019, Breast Milk Substitutes Undermine Breastfeeding Promotion

In a context where few South African children are breastfed exclusively, Lake et al argue that the aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes (BMS) harm efforts that promote breastfeeding. This article examines the contraventions to regulations that protect breastfeeding by this industry and the conflicts of interest that emerge with regard to its exposure to healthcare professionals.


Martin-Wiesnar, 2018, Breastfeeding Policy Review

This study reviews the adequacy of South Africa’s current policy framework around the promotion of breastfeeding and the impact of programmes and interventions, in various sectors, in translating policy into practice. In light of the evident gap between policy and practice, Martin-Wiesnar provides recommendations for improved systemisation, compliance and impact.


Southern Africa Food Lab and Western Cape Government, 2017, Promoting Breastfeeding through Workplace Interventions

This article contextualises South Africa’s low rates of breastfeeding and provides an overview of interventions to promote breastfeeding in the workplace specifically in the Western Cape. It then provides recommendations to support breastfeeding at various levels in government and society.


Siziba, 2015, Low Rates of Breastfeeding

This study explores the infant-feeding practices of mothers in four provinces in South Africa. Results of the study indicate that there are extremely low rates of breastfeeding in these provinces, indicating a need for new strategies around breastfeeding awareness with a specific focus on community involvement and participation.


Western Cape Government, 2018, Breastfeeding Support Model Review

This presentation reviews different support systems for breastfeeding mothers in the Western Cape from 2014 to 2018.

WHO and UNICEF, 2019, South African Breastfeeding Scorecard

This scorecard summarises breastfeeding statistics and outcomes in South Africa.


Breastfeeding Resources and Information

Department of Health, 2018, Breastfeeding Q&A

The Department of Health provides a questions and answers guide to convey information about breastfeeding.

Department of Health, 2019, Guide for Breastfeeding in Workplace

The Department of Health provides a guide for both employers and employees around breastfeeding in the workplace. This practical guide is meant to support the practice of breastfeeding in the workplace by providing information to breastfeeding employees about their rights in the workplace and encouraging breastfeeding-friendly environments.

Knowledge for Health, 2006, Breastfeeding Advocacy Toolkit

Led by the WHO and UNICEF, this toolkit aims to increase investment and policy change to support breastfeeding worldwide, which requires advocacy at the global, national, and sub-national levels. The toolkit acts as a platform providing tools and resources around breastfeeding for various stakeholders.

What to Expect Website, 2018, Common Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions

This is a practical guide to breastfeeding, presenting 11 common breastfeeding problems and their solutions.

WHO and UNICEF, Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding Poster

This visual poster provides information on various steps to support breastfeeding.

“Breast is Best” Critique

Goredema Görgens, 2018, Embrace’s Submission to National Treasury on Zero-Rating Formula

This article uses the personal stories of women to indicate the ways in which structural and physical impediments prevent women in South Africa from breastfeeding, while society continues to shame and police these women for what appears a personal failure. Embrace provides several recommendations for National Treasury to consider and appeals to the National Treasury to reconsider taking formula off of the zero rated goods list as, while zero rating formula may not have a huge tangible impact, it acts as an acknowledgement by government of mothers’ expertise when it comes to their own children.

Govender, 2019, Personal Breastfeeding Story

Govender provides a personal account of her own breastfeeding experience in order to criticise South African systems that shame women who choose to stop breastfeeding without taking into consideration their personal contexts.

Moorhead, 2013, Breastfeeding Opinion Piece

Moorhead criticises research by Sheffield University which recommends that women be “bribed” into breastfeeding their children – such research, Moorhead argues, does not take into account the psychosocial issues and complexities that inform individual mothers’ choices around breastfeeding.

Chersich et al, 2018, Safeguarding maternal and child health in South Africa by starting the Child Support Grant before birth

Cherisch et al argue that ” Pregnancy support in SA would be feasible and effective if integrated within existing social support programmes and
operationally simple. This requires uncomplicated enrolment procedures (e.g. an antenatal card), cash-only support, and few or no
conditionalities. To overcome political barriers to implementation, the design might initially need to include features that discourage
pregnancy incentives. Support could incentivise service utilisation, without difficult-to-measure conditionalities. Beginning the CSG in
pregnancy would be operationally simple and could substantially transform maternal and child health.”


Chersich and Fonn, 2017, Pregnancy Support Grant

This opinion piece takes the stance that the child support grant in South Africa should start at pregnancy in order to enhance child health and development outcomes, using a study of the effects of pregnancy support grants internationally.


Chersich et al, 2011, Pregnancy Support Grant Study

This study makes the case for a pregnancy support grant in South Africa in order to improve infant health programmes. It indicates that such a grant could be feasible and effective if integrated with existing social support programmes.


Plagerson and Hochfeld, 2018, Social Security and Gender Justice in South Africa

This paper considers how social protection can promote gender equality in South Africa, specifically social assistance, unemployment insurance and public employment programmes. This study indicates that The Child Support Grant is the most effective but that overall these programmes are disappointing and limited social transformation is due to implementation inefficiencies and unresponsive institutions. There is therefore a need for gender-sensitive synergies between social security instruments and with other multisectoral interventions to be strengthened.


Langa, 2017, Narratives of Fatherhood

This study tracks the experiences of young black men over nine years in order to explore masculine identities around fatherhood over time. In interviews key themes brought up were participants’ relationships with their mothers, experiences of growing up without a father, entering the working world and becoming fathers themselves.


SGT and HSRC, 2018, State of SA Fathers

This report details examples of fatherhood in South Africa, many of which serve to contradict conventional narratives of absent fathers. It aims to expand the lens through which we conceptualise fatherhood as a means of changing narratives and influencing policy makers.


Sonke Gender Justice, Silence Speaks Digital Storytelling Project

This article provides an overview of the digital storytelling workshop series in South Africa which aimed to break the silence around gender based violence by creating and distributing narratives and participatory media exploring the links between gender, violence and HIV/AIDS


StatsSA, 2018, Crime against Women in South Africa Report

This report analyses the statistics of types of crimes perpetrated against women in South African in order to establish trends and the extent of victimisation of women. The report also investigates perceptions of crime and feelings of safety amongst women in South Africa.


Violence against Pregnant Women

Chadwick, 2017, Obstetric Violence in South Africa

Chadwick examines obstetric violence by using a feminist social constructivist analysis of South African women’s narratives of giving birth in public sector obstetric contexts. Chadwick interviewed several women of low-income status in Cape Town to indicate that instances of obstetric violence are not isolated but act as a mode of disciplining women which is informed by class, gender, race and medical power.


Rucell, 2017, Obstetric Violence and Colonial Conditioning

Rucell investigates the relationship between obstetric violence, and colonial era conditioning. By looking at South Africa’s post-1994 public health system, she argues that “societal norms, political-economic arrangements, health systems, and their policies, have established structural violence which generates and spreads a continuum of violent practices within reproductive health services”.


Commission for Gender Equality, 2019, Report on Violence against Women

This report provides an overview of the violence women often endure when seeking reproductive healthcare during maternity and birth. It then examines the causes and driver behind this violence. Lastly, it analyses the legal framework that is meant to protect women’s reproductive rights.


Field et al, 2018, Domestic Violence against Pregnant Women

Field et al use a statistical analysis to investigate associations between mental illness, demographic, psychosocial and economic factors and the experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) in a low resource setting in Cape Town. The results of this study indicate that high levels of adversity like food insecurity and mental ill-health are associated with IPV. The authors recommend that advocates against IPV should take into consideration the ways in which violence, when normalised in society, may be perpetrated by non-intimate partners.


Perinatal Mental Health Project, Violence during Pregnancy Leaflet

This leaflet provides information and routes to find help and support for Cape Town-based women experiencing violence during pregnancy.


Conceptualising Motherhood

Abrams, 2017, Cape Town Conceptions of Motherhood

Through several interviews of mothers in Cape Town, Abrams presents several stories of motherhood. Abrams indicates that these conceptions are informed by race and class backgrounds and indicates that mothering is the primary form of racial socialisation, carrying profound implications for raising the next generation of South Africans.


Frizelle and Hayes, 1999, Challenging Motherhood Ideal

The authors of this study critique the notion of “ideal” motherhood which is unattainable and oppressive to mothers. To combat this ideal, they interview 4 mothers to present a conception of everyday motherhood which is multifaceted and complex, defying homogenous definitions.


Frizelle and Kell, 2010, Contextualising Motherhood

This study focuses in South African mothers, indicating that their mothering experiences are embedded in their particular contexts. Furthermore, this study indicates that experiences of motherhood intersect with other identity factors, like race, class and sexual orientation.


Vavani, Experiences of Motherhood

This study explores the experience of motherhood through interviews with 8 new mothers in the Johannesburg area. It employs a psychoanalytic framework and focuses specifically on the lived experience of motherhood, bonding and attachment, and cultural practices that inform motherhood.


Walker, 1995, Conceptualising Motherhood in SA

Walker analyses the political significance of motherhood in twenty-first century South Africa, and provides a critique of previous conceptualisations and debates which tend to essentialise motherhood identity(identities).


Narratives of Motherhood

Class Specific Narratives

De Villiers, 2011, Mothering as a Three-Generational Process

De Villiers investigates how childcare arrangements manifest in low-income communities. This study explores the narratives of people involved in these arrangements in a community in the Western Cape, where childcare becomes multigenerational.


O’Rourke, 2016, Motherhood in Ocean View

This study explores narratives of motherhood in Ocean View, a conventionally low-income and resource-poor area, and indicates the importance of the Moms and Tots programme which provides social and material networks.


Seepamore, 2019, Positioning Nannies as Mothers

This study explores the lives of migrant nannies in South Africa. These women, in underprivileged settings, have to parent their own children at a distance while their jobs in middle-class families facilitate intensive mothering of employers’ children, but in a context where nannies have very little authority in this mothering role. The study further explores the ways in which, owing to these circumstances, nannies also formulate parallel childcare arrangements for their own children.


Worthington, 2013, Middle Class White Mothers

This study explores the lives of 10 middle class white mothers in Cape Town.


HIV Positive Mothers

Brandt, 2008, Narratives of Poor HIV Positive Women

This study conducts interviews in South Africa to portray the different narratives of poor HIV positive women, and indicates the importance of mental health services and poverty alleviation programmes in combatting the disease.


Street, 2011, Lived Experiences of HIV Positive Mothers

This study explores the lived experiences of HIV positive mothers in Johannesburg. Interviews conducted indicate how the experience of motherhood is influenced by the condition and show the importance of care centres in mitigating some of the “chaos and disruption” of being diagnosed with HIV.


LGBT Families

Kruger, 2016, Motherhood in Planned Lesbian Families

In this study, Kruger interviewed 10 lesbian couples in South Africa who had become mothers, in order to better understand the emotional experience of motherhood in these families.


Soldati-Kahimbaara, 2016, Mothers of LGB Children

In a South African context where the LGB community faces extreme discrimination despite progressive policy, this study considers 6 black mothers of LGB children. The study indicates the ways in which mothers may, in a sense, “out” themselves by providing solidarity with, normalisation of, and unconditional love and protection for LGB children.


Kimani-Murage, 2016, Maternity Leave Laws

This opinion piece outlines the importance of maternity leave and the need for better maternity leave laws to protect working mothers in African countries.


Maqubela, 2013, Work-Life Balance in Post-Apartheid SA

This study investigates the ways in which women in post-apartheid South Africa reconcile both paid work and caregiving duties. In a context where the workplace remains masculinised, with little cognisance of family responsibilities, Maqubela indicates the ways in which these women mobilise their support networks and develop coping strategies.


Opie, 2011, Work-Family Conflict

This study investigates work-family conflict among women in South African industry and its effects on work engagement. Survey evidence shows that work-family conflict is negatively associated with work engagement, indicating a need for firms to provide more support to working mothers.


Robinson, 2014, Attitudes to Motherhood and Working Mothers

This study explore the ideology of the “good” mother and how this image create conflict for mothers who choose or are forced by circumstance in South Africa to engage in paid work. Thereafter it indicates the lack of government and industry support for working mothers which negatively affects their ability to balance caregiving and formal work.


South African Government, 1998, Code of Good Practice for Protection of Employees during Pregnancy and After Birth

This document contains the code pertaining to the treatment of pregnant women and new mothers by employers contained in the Basic Condition of Employment Act.